“When we talk to someone, we don’t ask for their ID or tax number…” Impive, almost indifferent, Rainer Kensy von Echlin explains his relationship with a certain “Karl Widmer”. This Swiss would, according to him, have been his source. He would have sent him listings and bank statements of tax evaders to hand over to the French authorities. But investigators were never able to identify him, eventually doubting his existence.
It is therefore not this mysterious Mr. Widmer but rather Rainer Kensy von Echlin who appeared, Tuesday, June 6, at the Paris Criminal Court for “false”, “attempted fraud” and “slanderous denunciation”, in the company of his former lawyer, Jacky Petitot, accused him of “attempted fraud”.
This case began in 2015 when Mr.e Jacky Petitot, lawyer at the bar of Gre (Alpes-Maritimes) and practicing in Strasbourg, contacted the Directorate General of Public Finances (DGFIP) to send it information on French taxpayers with accounts in Switzerland. Three banks are, according to him, involved: UBS, Hottinger and Julius Baer. It is ultimately the National Tax Investigation Department (DNEF) and the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) that will receive the documents in early 2016. In total, according to these listings, 3,200 French people are concerned. Among them, the children of a former budget minister, billionaires and celebrities. “A tax fraud brought on a plate”quips Judge Guillaume Daieff at the hearing.
What at first appears to be a tax evasion scandal quickly turns out to be a farce. In exchange for the documents, Mr.e Petitot would have demanded remuneration from the French administration. What the DNRED refuses, the remuneration of tax advisors being prohibited since 2004. Especially since after a second check of the documents, the administration realizes that these are falsified. An investigation opened by the PNF was dismissed in February 2017.
This soap opera seems to be closed until November of the same year, when two cardboards are deposited anonymously in front of the editorial staff of Mediapart. Journalists found 4,000 bank documents there. After the hope of a new financial scandal comes disillusion: the statements are false. A month later, Mediapart reveals the case in the press and an investigation is opened by the Paris prosecutor’s office.
At the origin of the documents transmitted, justice identifies Rainer Kensy von Echlin. This 62-year-old German banker has worked in banks all over the world… including Switzerland. On his tablet, the investigators found a document containing an editable version of the statements sent to the French authorities, as well as information concerning industrial printers. Material that could have been used to produce the 4,000 sheets delivered to the editorial staff of Mediapart.
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